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Bananas like to ripen at the very very tropical Bronx refrigeration plant
December 20, 2011 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Spaces of banana control. A visit to one of the four major artificial banana ripening facilities in New York City, for a research seminar on the "Artificial Cryosphere."

The article is jam-packed with great "did-you-know" factoids:
  • "The energy coming off a box of ripening bananas could heat a small apartment."
  • There are seven standard degrees of ripeness offered by banana distributors, from all green to yellow with brown "sugar spots."
  • Because ethylene, the ripening agent, is highly flammable, fatal banana ripening room incidents were common in the early days of this process.
Tip of the hat to finnb for finding this one first.
posted by gusandrews (16 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

I eat bananas fairly regularly and never knew any of this. Thanks for posting.

Also, Spaces of Banana Control sounds sort of like a 90s era Sonic Youth album title.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:57 PM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

Paging Pirate Prentice.
posted by chavenet at 3:12 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Loved this article. Thanks for posting!
posted by rebent at 3:13 PM on December 20, 2011

> yellow with brown "sugar spots."

posted by ardgedee at 3:22 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

'yellow, with brown "sugar spots"' is pretty much when bananas attain maximum sweetness & sugar content. As someone who grew up with trees in the backyard & consequently ate fresh bananas every summer, the supermarket-preferred "all yellow" tastes dry and boring. Chuck them in a paper bag or hang them up for a day or two, and they're much better.
posted by Pinback at 3:32 PM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

(Which is to say, it's a technical term rather than a marketing one)
posted by Pinback at 3:34 PM on December 20, 2011

Weird. I always buy bananas as green as I can get them and the what the kids don't consume during the week, I freeze or peel, smash and freeze. Remember that "ice cream from only bananas" FPP? Yeah - I make that all the time.
posted by PuppyCat at 3:34 PM on December 20, 2011

There was a banana ripening explosion here in 1936 that blew out the windows in an entire neighborhood, and structurally weakened the spires on the church across the street. It's such a weird piece of history that every time we're in the neighborhood, we always talk about what it would have been like to see it raining bananas through the air.
posted by librarianamy at 3:38 PM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Always bring a banana to a party.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:39 PM on December 20, 2011

Cool. They store apples in controlled atmospheres as well.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:56 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

"did-you-know" factoids: Also, bananas are radioactive.
posted by XMLicious at 5:02 PM on December 20, 2011

XMLicious, thanks for that. I love that the EPA felt it needed to comment and rebuff the Banana Equivalent Dose.
posted by gusandrews at 5:59 PM on December 20, 2011

A banana is only good to eat if it's a 4 or 5. The geriatric 6s and 7s are good for banana bread, maybe.

I have spoken.
posted by eugenen at 6:08 PM on December 20, 2011

Also, in the US, the bananas we get now are different from the bananas our parents or grandparents grew up on.
posted by gjc at 6:35 PM on December 20, 2011

Because the Gros Michels suffered some sort of plague and a shortage, inspiring the song Yes, We Have No Bananas. Which I didn't know before you linked it, gjc, thanks!

eugenen, I tend to prefer 4s myself, but then I tend to prefer all fruit in a tongue-puckering state of unripeness.
posted by gusandrews at 7:16 PM on December 20, 2011

Can't help wondering how much this adds to the price of bananas.
posted by cedar key at 7:44 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

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